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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > DeFeet Blaze > Pam Wyant > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

DeFeet Blaze Socks

Initial Report November 28, 2006
Field Report March 20, 2007
Long Term Report May 22, 2007
Blaze socks

Tester Information:
 
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  49
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  165 lb (77 kg)
E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking 3 years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’, but managed a week long section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) this year.  I hike and backpack mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but plan on additional AT section hiking next year.  I’m usually a hammock sleeper, but am currently testing a Tarptent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist, and I try to cut as muck pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.


Packaged socks

Initial Report

November 28, 2006

Product Information:

 Manufacturer:  DeFeet
Year of manufacture:  2006
Date of Delivery:  November 21, 2006
Model:  Blaze
Size tested:  M (medium)
Color tested:  Pink Wool
Advertised Weight:  not available
Weight as delivered:  2.8 oz  (79 g) per pair
Approximate cuff height:  4 in (10 cm)
  
Tested Sock Components:  63% Wool, 27% Nylon, 10% Lycra Spandex

Manufacturer Website:  http://www.defeet.com
MSRP:   $13.00 US

Packaging diagramProduct Description:

Defeet lists the blaze as a 'performance trail sock' on the product packaging, and the socks certainly look technical, based on different areas of the sock having different weaves.  The packaging has a diagram of the various areas of the sock, pictured at the left.  These areas are listed and described on the packaging as:  En-Duro-Skin puncture resistant heel and toe, Air-E-Ator mesh weave vapor zone (front top section), Lace Pad (top of foot), Mid-foot compression banding for stabilization (central sides), Sole2 double-sided sole construction makes the combination of durability and moisture management a reality, and Mach Rib cuff. 

The socks I received are a bright pink I would describe as 'hot pink'.  The heel and toe do seem to be knit with a tighter, heavier weave than the rest of the sock and are a solid hot pink.  The mid-section has a mesh weave along the sides and front which is a variegated darker pink.  A finely ribbed center section is a slightly lighter shade of pink with minor variegation and has 7 small compression bands of a slightly darker pink.  The bottom of the sock is similar in color to the center 'lace pad' section and has "THE blaze DeFeet MD" printed in darker pink.  The rib cuff is hot pink of a similar shade to the heel and toe and has a darker pink pattern that reminds me of miniature teepees emblazoned on each side.  The DeFeet website lists the Pink Wool as designed especially for women and available only in size small and medium.  Other colors available are more neutral - Charcoal/Grey Wool, Grey/Blue CoolMax, and Grey/Orange CoolMax.  I find it somewhat interesting that DeFeet lists the main component of the sock within the color name.  I consider this marketing (and ordering) simplicity - there would be no question of the type of sock (wool or CoolMax) that I would receive when I ordered my color preference.

Laundering instructions are included on the packaging - machine wash cold, tumble-dry low, no chlorine bleach.  Also included is a sizing chart which lists which size sock corresponds to various European, U.S. Men's, and U.S. Women's shoe sizes.

Blaze components

Trying them on:

On my feetThe DeFeet Blaze socks slid easily over my foot, with a soft supple feel.  They seem to be a perfect fit, hugging the contours of my feet securely without bunching up.  The cuff is a comfortable height - tall enough for protection and warmth around the bottom of my leg, and short enough not to cut into or slip down from the thicker part of my calf like some other elasticized socks do.  The compression areas feel comfortably supportive and snug without being binding.  Wearing them around the house without shoes it almost feels like I'm getting a mini foot massage!  I look forward to seeing if they'll feel the same way on the trail.

Initial Impressions:

I'm slightly surprised at the weight of the Blaze socks for their height - they are what I consider crew height, but weigh the same or slightly (0.2 oz or 6 g) more than other calf height socks I own.  (Yes, I am becoming a bit of a gram weenie to even notice this.)  Based on the appearance of the socks, my guess is that this is due to the Blaze having a tighter weave.  My hope is that this will result in a sock that is more pill resistant, supportive, and longer lasting.  Only time and testing will tell whether my guess is accurate.

The color is a lot lighter and brighter than my normal greys and beiges which hide dirt quite well.  My main concern here is whether the light color will stain more easily than darker colors.  (No, I'm not a fashion diva, but I hate for my socks to look dirty when they are really clean.)


Field Report

March 20, 2007



Defeet Blaze after about 100 miles of wear

Field Conditions:

Since my last report in November, I've worn the DeFeet Blaze socks at several Girl Scout camps, and two overnight backpacking trips, wearing them in all these activities the entire weekend.  I've also worn them on additional dayhikes, in West Virginia and Ohio, ranging from 3-10 mi (5-16 km).  Temperatures have ranged from lows around 20 F to highs around 70 F (-10 to 20 C).  I've worn them on hilly rough trails with lots of roots and rocks, along muddy creekside trails and backcountry roads, on grassy areas, blacktop roads, concrete sidewalks, and inside on wood and concrete floors.  I've worn them in sunshine, rain, and snow.

Use:

I've worn the Blaze socks with a pair of mid-weight leather hiking boots, low trail shoes, casual leather walking shoes, leather moccasins, and Croc clogs.  The socks have been comfortable in all the different types of footwear, and feel great when I wear them shoeless around the house.  I've slept in them at camp several times, and find them very comfortable for sleeping.  I did not sleep in them on backpacking trips, since I used them hiking, where they do become damp with sweat, and I like to wear clean dry socks for sleeping on backpacking trips.  I would estimate about 100 miles (160 km) wear on the socks so far.

Findings so far:

So far I am very pleased with the Blaze socks overall.  They do show some slight pilling, and they have a blackish stain, pictured below, which occurred when I wore them with my gaiters and low trail shoes on a snowy hike.

Slight stain from wearing with gaiters

The pilling is most noticeable in the area just above the heel, and in the mid-foot section of the bottom, with very little in the toe area or top of the foot, and none noticeable on the rib knit cuff area. 

The socks still feel springy and elastic, conforming well to my foot, with just enough compression to feel snug and secure without feeling tight or restrictive.  They seem to be wearing well, although I have noticed a small, whitish spot at the heel, pictured below, which would seem to indicate they are wearing a bit there.  This seems fairly consistent with wear I have noticed with other high quality wool socks having equivalent use, and is better than many lower quality socks I have worn, which have developed threadbare spots with similar use.

Wear in heel area

The socks fit quite well, and don't slide around on my feet. I've sometimes had trouble in the past with socks sliding down from the top, even so much as having the top slide completely down into the heel area.  This results in the aggravation of having to stop and tug socks up into place often, which makes for a frustrating hike.  I'm happy to report nothing like this has ever happened with the Blaze - they've stayed in place perfectly every time I've worn them.

I've also found the Blaze wicks sweat quite well.  Although they've sometimes become damp when hiking, my feet have stayed dry and have never felt overly hot.  When hiking they have kept my feet warm well down into the 20 F (-10 C) range, even when hiking in snow and slush (worn with waterproof shoes).  The only time my feet have been cold in these socks is at the end of a backpacking day, when my camp chores were finished and I was not active.  I experienced this twice, when temperatures were in the 25 to 35 F range (-5 to 0 C).

About the only thing I can say I don't like about these socks is the color.  While I'm not really fashion conscious when hiking, backpacking, or camping, the bright pink color really stands out, clashing badly with the more muted colors I prefer for outdoor activities.  Happily, the wool Blaze is also available in Charcoal color, which would solve that problem for me.  In the meantime, I can say that it would be very difficult for me to lose these socks because they blend into the background!

Long Term Report

May 22, 2007

Field Conditions:

I've continued to use the DeFeet Blaze socks on several dayhikes in the western part of West Virginia, in temperatures ranging from about 40 F to 80 F (5-25 C), for distances of 3-5 mi (5-8 km).  Weather conditions on the dayhikes ranged widely, and included a mix of dry and sunny, rainy and humid, and snowy and windy.  Elevation ranged from about 700 to 900 ft (200 to 300 m).  Trail conditions for the dayhikes have ranged from dry sandy soil to wet rocks and sticky mud, and pretty much everything in between.

In late March I hiked about 10 mi (16 km) in the Blaze socks on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the Grayson Highlands area of Virginia, where elevations were around 3500 to 5000 ft (1100 to 1500 m).  Temperatures ranged from around 50-70 F (10-20 C).

In April I used the DeFeet Blaze socks to hike about 70 mi (113 km) of the AT in Tennessee and North Carolina.  This included several 'slackpack' hikes (which are basically long dayhikes) while staying in a hostel in Erwin, Tennessee, and on an overnight backpacking trip with a stay at Curley Maple Gap Shelter.  The overnight trip was approximately 9 mi (15 km) and the slackpacks ranged from 11 to 22 mi (18 to 35 km).  Temperatures ranged from an overnight low of about 20 F (-7 C) on the overnight to a high of about 60 F (16 C).  Most of the days were sunny or partially cloudy, although I experienced snow and cold temperatures on one 20 mi (32 km) slackpack.  Elevations ranged from 1700 to 5500 ft (500 m to 1700 m), with over 12000 ft (3700 m) of elevation gain over the entire 70 mi (113 km) trip, and a similar amount of elevation loss.  The trail was mostly rock and dirt interspersed with tree roots, with some areas of solid rock, and only a few areas of smooth dirt.  I also used the socks for a short overnight backpacking trip of about 3 mi (5 km) in southern West Virginia in late April, where the overnight low was 35 F (2 C), and the day time high was about 65 F (18 C) with no precipitation, but high humidity.  Trail conditions on this trip were mainly smooth soil and grass, with a few rocky areas.

In May I used the Blaze socks for an overnight backpacking trip in central West Virginia.  The distance was short, only about 2 mi (3 km).  The low temperature was around 40 F (4 C) and the high about 70 F (21 C), with steady, moderate rain for most of the trip.  The elevation ranged from 700 to 900 ft (200 to 300 m).  The trail was mainly mud and wet vegetation (grass and weeds).

Use:

During this period of testing, I've mainly worn the Blaze socks with low trail shoes for hiking and for some additional casual use with Croc clogs.  I would estimate about another 150 mi (240 km) wear on the socks in this test period for a total of about 250 mi (400 km) overall.  On most of my hikes, the socks remained fairly dry (well, a little damp with sweat is more accurate), but they became fairly wet in the foot area on a few of the rainier hikes, and were soaked on the overnight backpack in May.

A funny little incident occurred during the overnight trip in late April.  Apparently someone else wasn't too found of the pink color, since she told me that one of my pants legs was folded up and to 'please pull it down since she was tired of looking at my pink sock'!

During the rainy overnight backpack in May I found a new use for the Blaze socks.  They make great little mops to get rid of small puddles of water on a tent floor!  Since they were already soaked, I could just mop, wring, and re-use them without getting any of the rest of my gear wet.

After 4 months wear

The Blaze after 4 months wear - slight staining evident at toe, and slight wear evident in foot ball area.

Final Conclusions:

Throughout the test period I've found the DeFeet Blaze socks extremely comfortable under all conditions, even when damp or soaked.  On some of the longer hikes (15 + miles/24+ km) I experienced some tenderness and reddening on my left pinky toe, which I attribute more to my shoes than the socks, and which has occurred before with various other socks and shoes I've worn; but I never experienced any blistering while wearing the Blaze socks.  They continue to feel springy and elastic, and to fit my foot well with a comfortable compression in the mid-foot area.  The tops continue to stay put without sagging or drooping. 

Wear at heelThe socks wick sweat away from my feet quite well when they are dry, and even when slightly damp.  If the foot area becomes saturated I do notice a wet feel, but fortunately in cooler temperatures the wool provides some insulation even when wet.  Like other wool socks I've worn, they don't dry quickly, so on the occasions the Blaze socks became soaked on overnight trips (especially those in the 40 F/4 C or lower temperature range), changing from my dry sleeping socks back into the Blaze for hiking the next day is akin to torture.  However, this isn't the fault of the socks, just the nature of the conditions.

The Blaze socks do show quite a bit of wear in the heel area, having lost most of their cushioning in an area about the size of a US quarter, but have not yet developed a hole.  Additional wear and loss of cushioning is starting in the ball of the foot area, but is barely noticeable at this point.  The socks also show some unattractive brown staining, which isn't entirely unexpected given the light color I tested.  Overall, I like the fit and comfort of these socks, but am not entirely pleased by their durability.  Considering the suggested retail price and the comfort, and the use conditions I subjected them to, I would still be inclined to purchase a pair (in a more muted color) the next time I am in need of hiking socks in spite of wishing they had been just a little more durable.

Thanks to DeFeet and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Blaze socks.

Read more reviews of DeFeet gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Clothing > Socks > DeFeet Blaze > Pam Wyant > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



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